Time to Eat the Dogs

On Science, History, and Exploration

Podcast #13: In Search of Brightest Africa

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When President Trump talked of Africa as a continent of “shithole countries” where people lived in huts, he was drawing on a set of ideas made popular in the 19th century. “Darkest Africa” became a favorite trope of explorers like Henry Morton Stanley who promoted his books and lectures by pushing the idea of Africa as a dark place – a phrase that had all kinds of meanings – racial, intellectual, geographical.

Today I speak with Jeannette Eileen Jones, author of In Search of Brightest Africa, Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936. Jones talks about the many different groups, from naturalists and conservationists to African American artists and intellectuals, who begin to recast Africa in the America imagination in the early 20th century. Jones is associate professor of history and ethnic studies at University of Nebraska Lincoln.

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